Well, it’s been 24 hours and I no longer smell like Pittsburgh, circa 1894.
We’re coming up on Halloween now, if I’ve got this whole “calendar” thing figured out properly. Of course this bothers some folks, people who think that getting dressed up in costumes and hitting up the neighbors for candy is some kind of Satanic plot and who think that calling it “Jesusween” is somehow not going to cause everyone with more than five functioning brain cells to laugh like hyenas at a George Carlin show, but I’m pretty much fine with people like that being bothered.
I miss George Carlin.
Over at the same park where they have the Thresheree they were advertising a Haunted Train Ride, and since you cannot spend the whole weekend working on class prep (well, maybe you can, but I can’t) I put my stuff aside and joined Kim and the girls on an expedition that way.
We even picked up their friend Grace and made a field trip of it.
Eventually we found the entrance to the park – a whole different kettle of fish in the dark than during the day, particularly since the organizers of this thing don’t hold much truck with new-fangled things like signage. Why back in the day you had to find your way in by scent alone! And if you weren’t quick about it a squad of burly men in overalls would tie you to the nearest tree, coat you in Vapo-Rub, spin you clockwise three times and toss you in the creek before you tried again. Those were the times when men were men, goldurnit.
Where was I?
Oh yeah – eventually we found the park and got in line for the train. It was a long line, there being a lot of people there (none of whom, fortunately, smelled like Vapo-Rub, times having gotten soft like they have), and we waited.
They tried to keep us entertained while we waited, with all sorts of costumed ghoulies wandering up and down making people shriek, as well as a craft area up the hill for those who didn’t feel like shrieking. The line moved slowly but surely, and after a while we found ourselves boarding the train.
This is the same train they use for the Thresheree – a 3/4-scale fully functional coal-fired steam engine pulling one closed car and one open one. There was some talk among the girls about trying for the open car, but in the end we weren’t given any options and were just herded into the closed one.
And a good thing, too.
For one thing, the entire fifteen minute ride consisted of various costumed characters running up to the car and shouting at us or pounding on the sides of the car, even as we rolled by a fair number of ghastly scenes that had clearly been set up by people with some serious issues. It’s nice to see those people finding gainful employment that doesn’t involve politics, I suppose, but they were rather startling at times.
My favorite was the old van done up to look like the Mystery Machine, with what was clearly the pelt of Scooby Doo hung from the door frame.
The other thing that made me glad to be on the inside was the train itself. Recall the description above, notably the phrase “coal-fired.” There we were, riding through the darkness past all sort of eeriness, and probably half of it was invisible because of the thick black coal smoke that came belching out of the locomotive and in through the windows of the rail car. Sometimes I was hard pressed to see Tabitha, sitting next to me, let alone whatever new horror the organizers had set up outside.
Eventually the ride came to an end and we poured ourselves out of the train and back into our car for the ride home, shaking off the coal dust all the while.
The Vapo-Rub starts to sound good after that.